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  • #31
    Riding IS dangerous, no doubt -- but once you've got it in your blood, there's no turning back, and riding down a New England country road on a beautiful fall day, you realize that some things are worth the risk.

    And you will survive, if you use your wits and pay attention -- always. Everyone knows the "Drive Defensively" saying for car drivers; for years, my motto has been "Ride as if everything is your fault." That means excuses like "The guy pulled out in front of me" don't cut the mustard -- you learn to recognize the signs that predict drivers' behavior, and you take responsibility for your own safety by always having an exit strategy. This is why I agree with the no drinking (not even one beer) approach -- your wits are your number one asset against the "cagers".

    This all sounds like it would be a drag, but really, it becomes second nature after a while, and doesn't cut into your enjoyment at all.

    btw, Neil Peart (to call him an "avid rider" would be an understatement) said a lot of these same things in a great interview for American Motorcyclist Mag last year.

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    • #32
      I had a brand new 2002 RoadKing it was a great Harley...but it was still a Harley...mediocre brakes and handled like a bathtub on a skateboard.
      After a couple years and tiring of all the middle aged wannabe's dressing up like pirates roaring from bar to bar I got a Honda ST1300, much better all around sport touring machine. Soon it wasn't fast enough so I sold it and bought a Kawisaki ZZR1200, very fast and relatively nimble and soon I found myself trying to drag a knee on sweeping turns at 90+ miles an hour like some kind of teenager. Very bad behavior for a 50 year old father of 2.
      Sold it and bought a fast car instead...much better choice.

      The Harley is also very overpriced compared to other bikes. Rent one and have some fun...in fact just rent one every time you feel the urge and you'll be better off because long before you burn up the price of a new one in rental fees you'll grow tired of it unless you like dressing up like a pirate and bouncing from bar to bar....

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      • #33
        I started riding when I was around 15 and had the fastest bikes by the time I was 18...Kawasaki 500 triple and then a 750 triple...2 strokes. I was out to kill myself every time I got on....I realize it now I have always had a bit of a death wish. I dug it so much I started an apprenticeship as a motorcycle mechanic soon thereafter and was a professional motorcycle mechanic for a tad over 23 years before getting into film and television production.

        I have ridden the best and the worst every day of my life for about 30 years and am still here to tell the tale. However, I did take a LOT of spills. A few on the racetrack with good protective gear on, but too many on the asphalt in jeans and T-shirts. A ton of spills in the dirt on my dirt bikes.

        Bottom line, you are going to go down. It is not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. Maybe it is just some road rash maybe it's a sprain or a broken bone....but maybe it is that car that ran the red and killed you.

        You need to know what you are getting in to. If you drive like a space cadet you better think about it. You need to develop a different mindset to ride a motorcycle especially in a big city.

        I stopped riding in Los Angeles because there are way too many people here who come from countries that have poor driving habits....or where they did not have a car before and they come here and somehow get a license. These people are out to kill you and then have no money to take care of your family after they took you out.

        There used to be a slogan.."buy a Harley, it's the best, ride a mile, walk the rest!"

        LOL..they have got a lot better. I like Harley's but everyone I know who has one ends up tinkering a lot. They start off expensive and mods are hellish expensive. Unless you want to start off with a used older bike and do it up over time.

        In your case I would suggest a Honda. I like Honda because having worked at length for all the big Jap dealerships, I find Honda to be the best company and their bikes are very mechanic friendly. Next Yamaha, followed by Kawasaki and lastly Suzuki. Suzuki sport bikes are very good.

        All the Jap bikes are very good today, I still think Honda rules overall.

        A very nice Honda quite overlooked is the slightly older VFR 800 maybe 2006-2008 or so I think. It is a sport tourer. It has a very sophisticated valve timing and ignition/fuel injection system with the 3-D ignition mapping and no mater where you are on the throttle it will dial in the best fuel mixture/ignition timing for you---very responsive!!! This baby will switch to 2 valves per cylinder below a certain RPM and to 4 above that RPM. VTEC it is called.




        If you want a touring bike, take a look at a nice used VTX 1300 or 1800 or even go new.


        Harley's are WAAAY expensive. Keep your 4 wheels and get something like this VTX which will have way more features than a Harley and use the extra money you save to put some nice accessories on the Honda and get some dialed in protective gear. You will need a VERY good quality helmet and some leather. A back protector is a good idea. Basics are helmet, leather pants and jacket, gloves ( summer and winter-waterproof ), riding boots, back protector and a good rainsuit.

        Basic accessories for the bike are saddlebags and a windscreen if you like those. Floor boards are nice for long trips. The VTX has them. Also a GPS is nice and you can get heated handgrips...yada yada yada.

        Dumping your 4 wheel and spending all your spare bones on a Harley is silly idea. You are likely going to end up being a weekend warrior and a fair weather rider at that. No insult intended, I have just seen it a lot.

        Another alternative is to get a dual sport. Something like an XR650L. This will get you to work and back nicely and also allow you to take a ride on a dirt trail or fire roads. The upright riding position is comfortable and it has an electric starter.

        http://powersports.honda.com/2009/xr650l/offroad.aspx

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        • #34
          One thing to note about the VTEC in the VFR800....that technology has been dropped with the newer VFR. Consider that the system to actuate that adds more things to possibly go wrong. However almost everyone I know who has ever ridden one of these loves the bike. They handle great and go fast then stop well.

          To expand on what someone else said about Harleys....... these Jap bikes will out handle, out brake and out perform most stock Harley's very easily.

          Harley is it's own deal. They are great machines also, but you have to weigh it all up starting with the expense to get into a nicer model. I would personally avoid a Sportster though, especially the 883.

          Figure a Road King at about $17,000 and a 2009 VTX 1300 at around mid to high $9's. That is roughly $8000 difference. That is a bunch of savings to put towards other stuff to make the experience good, maybe get a full service on the car or truck also. Plus servicing and parts etc on the Honda will be less expensive.

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          • #35
            OK, I'll talk you out of it.

            I've never understood the appeal of Harleys, or motorcycles in general really. This in spite of the fact that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of my favorite books. Go figure.

            But anyway... like John said, the noise. It's ridiculous. I don't care if you're out in the middle of nowhere and won't disturb anybody else - if it's supposed to be time spent with nature, I want to hear the sounds of nature - not the roar of a freakin motorcycle engine the whole time. Let alone if you're actually thinking of making it your primary vehicle, when presumably you live in a place where you have neighbors whom you are going to piss off with the noise.

            Of course, there are other bikes that are much quieter than Harleys, and if you must get a bike, I'd say get one of those. But then there's the danger factor, as others have mentioned. There are way too many situations you are likely to run into where you could be killed or permanently maimed, regardless how safe a rider you are.

            Then there's the fact that if it's replacing your primary vehicle, you won't be able haul stuff when you need to, or get around in all types of weather.

            Last but not least, if you're single, chicks usually don't dig guys with bikes. Other than biker chicks that is. Most sensible women, if they find out you have a bike they won't want to date you. Why? Because 1) they feel it's a matter of time before you get killed or permanently maimed, and 2) they figure you won't be around much because you'll always be off somewhere on that damned motorcycle.

            In fact, this desire of yours seems to be so impetuous and ill-conceived that I'd say there's probably something else that is driving your desire. A lot of times people crave something and then just go get it without thinking about the reasons why, and if you don't get at the underlying reason, then getting the bike won't actually satisfy the craving. Maybe something else could scratch that itch just as well and be more fulfilling, without so much risk of breaking your neck or otherwise being so impractical/expensive/whatever.

            I'm not saying that nothing dangerous, impractical or expensive is worthwhile. Plenty of things are. I don't doubt there are some people who really have such an abiding love for motorcycles that any amount of danger or expense is worth it to them. More power to 'em, I just wouldn't make a purchase like that on impulse without considering all these things.
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            • #36
              My Doctor father said that if I wanted to get a motorbike I'd have to do the rounds through the hospital with him first.
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              • #37
                I'm a family father. Hang gliding, base jumping, the act of riding a motorcycle etc. is out of question

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                • #38
                  How old are you? or rather what age are you about to turn?

                  If you're not doing it as a mid-life/pre-mid life crisis thing and live in good weather (which you're still gonna get rain...something to think about), hell why not!

                  Better yet, get a decent used one and keep the 4 wheels.
                  Yeah Buddy! LIGHTWEIGHT!

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                  • #39
                    I'm a family father. Hang gliding, base jumping, the act of riding a motorcycle etc. is out of question


                    In recent years, I've done zip lines, ridden in cars in hair-raising dirt roads in the Himalayas at 18,000 ft., and gone skydiving. But I'm not into riding a street bike in the city.
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                    • #40
                      Nostalgia! I learned on the "scrambler" version of that bike.

                      Re: "Zen and the Art..." I always though Pirsig and his son did that long trip on a fairly good-sized bike. Turns out it was a little Honda (I think it's either a 250 or a 305):



                      Yeah, its funny when you`re reading the book, you picture this huge bike, then you see the actual bike and its pretty surprising how the mind works.

                      @ Lee, when you talk about being in nature and hearing nature... if you`re going to go into the desert, I think a bike is the way to do it! Like Pirsig says, when you`re on a bike, you are part of the scenery, not viewing it through a windshield.

                      For the record, I would never depend on a bike as my primary vehicle.

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                      • #41


                        For the record, I would never depend on a bike as my primary vehicle.


                        Tell that to my neighborhood Paper Boy.
                        In the Kingdom of the Blind, the One-eyed Man is King.

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                        • #42
                          How about this? Harley Davidson is now a yuppie brand. Since Harley started its big marketing push back in the 90s or whenever, they've mostly sold to loafer-wearing suburbanites who drive around a couple of weekends during the summer when not shlepping the kids to soccer the Tahoe/H3/Navigator.

                          Any vestige of Easy Rider/the Wild Ones rebellion has been replaced with "Harley Davidson" collars for miniature dogs that you can buy at Petco.

                          I'd buy a Triumph.
                          Being right all the time is kind of boring.

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                          • #43
                            My Doctor father said that if I wanted to get a motorbike I'd have to do the rounds through the hospital with him first.


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                            • #44
                              How about this? Harley Davidson is now a yuppie brand. Since Harley started its big marketing push back in the 90s or whenever, they've mostly sold to loafer-wearing suburbanites who drive around a couple of weekends during the summer when not shlepping the kids to soccer the Tahoe/H3/Navigator.


                              Not only that, if they're going on a long distance trip, they use that Tahoe to trailer the Harleys to their destination -- then they can don their pirate gear and be seen on their hogs without making themselves too tired.



                              [edit] There are certainly dedicated Harley riders who've put on more miles than I ever will -- they're not the "trailer-your-bike" type at all!

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                              • #45

                                @ Lee, when you talk about being in nature and hearing nature... if you`re going to go into the desert, I think a bike is the way to do it!


                                Sure - if you're talking about a bicycle!

                                Or a horse. Or your own two feet. I love hiking, bicycling or horseback riding through the desert, mountains etc. Motorcycles... nahh. Everything goes by too fast and it's hard to really hear or see or appreciate anything given the noise/speed/etc.
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